Two-time premiership-winning coach Des Hasler has broken his silence on his dealings with Stephen Dank, claiming he had “no qualms” with the practices employed by the under-siege sports scientist during their time together at NRL club Manly.
Dank, whose lawyers on Sunday announced the launch of a $10 million defamation claim against various media outlets, has found himself at the centre of the doping scandal uncovered by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) last week.
AFL deputy chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirmed on Sunday that Essendon – who employed Dank in 2012 – was the one AFL club being investigated for possible multiple breaches of the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) code, while another player from an unnamed club was also under investigation.
The Sea Eagles also employed Dank from 2006-10 when he worked closely with Hasler, a period in which the club used cutting edge practices which included the injection of calves’ blood into players.
But Hasler, now head coach at Canterbury, said he never had any reason to question Dank’s methods as he leapt to the defence of his former club.
“Steve Dank is a great thinker – he’s a great analytical thinker,” Hasler said.
“In his time at Manly there, he did a lot of work with GPS and a lot of statistical science.
“He did a lot of work in (hypoxia) and that.
“I’ve got no qualms, 100 per cent, we worked entirely within the policy of the WADA and ASADA guidelines.
“There’s no drama there.”
Manly are reportedly one of six NRL clubs under investigation by the ACC, the NRL refusing to confirm the identity of any possible transgressors saying the league was still not in a position to inform the clubs which are under the microscope.
The AFL had no such restraint.
“I think it’s reasonable to say, given that the Essendon football club has come forward to the AFL and to ASADA, and proactively advised us of concerns they have, it’s reasonable to talk to that,” said McLachlan.
“The AFL is aware of potential multiple breaches at that club.”
A single player from another club was also being investigated, but McLachlan refused to reveal his identity.
“The AFL is aware of one case involving the possibility of WADA-prohibited performance-enhancing drug use by one player at one club,” said McLachlan.
Hasler said the league fraternity had no such specific information.
“There’s been a lot of speculation … a lot of accusation,” he said.
“Everyone now is waiting to see the accountability.”
The NRL said it could be another two days before it could inform clubs, but even then, it would be up to the individual clubs to come forward to the public.
“The NRL is in close and productive negotiation with the Australian Crime Commission to establish a formal mechanism by which we can inform individual clubs that they have been the subject of intelligence gathering by the ACC,” the NRL said in a statement released on Sunday.
“This framework should be established in 24-48 hours.
“Once this information is passed on, the NRL will not, under the guidelines outlined by the ACC, be able to identify the clubs publicly.
“This will be a matter for the individual clubs to consider in consultation with ASADA, the ACC and the NRL.”
ASADA released a statement on Sunday commending the full cooperation given by sporting organisations to work with the agency in protecting the integrity of their sports.